Shelley Young is grateful to be celebrating her 54th birthday – last summer there was a chance she wouldn’t get that opportunity.
It was July 21 and it was moving day as she packed her apartment in Pullman to move in to a new place in Colfax. Having a heart attack was not on her agenda.
“I had already made one trip to Colfax and was running up and down stairs with boxes and bags,” Shelley explained. “I was out of breath all morning and wanted to sit down. I just thought I was out of shape. I didn’t have time to not feel well. I had things to do.”
Shelley explained that when her son got off work, he was helping her move and they decided to go to Ace Hardware to get a moving truck.
“While we were sitting at the U-Haul counter, I was so tired,” she said. “Everything just got really heavy, my wallet, my phone.”
Her son grew worried and asked if she had eaten or drank anything that day. Shelley said no so they went next door to Southfork restaurant but Shelley wasn’t interested in food.
“I have had severe migraines almost daily my entire life so when I don’t feel well, my tendency is to want to go home and curl up with an icepack,” she said.
That’s where they were heading but they didn’t get very far.
“We were driving by the post office and my son was talking to my daughter who is an EMT, when I experienced discomfort in the upper left behind my chest. My hands, mouth and jaw felt like they were falling asleep.”
That’s when they realized something could possibly be wrong and they turned around to Pullman Regional Hospital.
“People in the Emergency Department saw my son park and run for the door to get help to get me out of the car and they were immediately there with a wheelchair,” she said. “The next thing I know I’ve got four or five IVs in me and they are telling me I’m having a heart attack.”
I said, “Well do what you need to do.” I wasn’t scared. It took me a minute to realize I could die. I told myself ‘Today could be the day you meet Jesus.’ That was pretty exciting, I was good either way. The doctor commented to my son that I was extraordinarily calm.”
She continues, “When they put the cardiac pads on, I knew what they were and flashed back to the old TV shows in which a patient is on the gurney and the paddles are being used. The patient’s body jumped like a foot off the gurney and any belly fat looked like a large earthquake and tsunami were happening in a bowl of Jello at the same time. I thought ‘Those could hurt! We won’t be needing those.’ ”
The Emergency Department staff stabilized Shelley and she was quickly flown by helicopter to Sacred Heart where she had emergency surgery and a stent was placed in her artery where she had 100 percent blockage.
“My daughter explained to me that 2/3 of my heart was basically holding its breath all morning,” Shelley laughed.
“Everyone took such good care of me. The helicopter came so quick. The people in the Emergency Department at Pullman were absolutely amazing at their jobs.”
Shelley is grateful and healthy today, only six months after her heart attack. She received follow up cardiac care at Pullman Regional Hospital and her heart is working well again but she made major life changes since the event.
“I quit smoking,” she said. “There have been a few tough moments, since I’ve been smoking a long time, but the cardiologist said I should.”
Shelley describes other life changes since her heart attack.
“It’s been gradual, but I am learning to be more appreciative, slow down and take less for granted. I also haven’t had a single migraine since the heart attack. Not only am I still very much here, but I have a much better quality of life now too.”
“I recently celebrated my 54th birthday,” she said. “You guys made it possible.”